Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono (Dar Williams)

From the FolkWax e-zine:

Yoko Ono will unveil the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland, on October 9, the date that her husband, John Lennon, was born in 1940. Lennon was shot and killed outside their New York City apartment by deranged fan Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980. He would have been 67 this year. "This is something that we spoke about 40 years ago," Ono told The Associated Press by phone last week before heading for Iceland. "Our dream is finally coming true."

The Imagine Peace Tower is a stories-tall beam of light that will emanate from a wishing well bearing the words "imagine peace" in 24 languages. The tower will be lit each year from October 9 to December 8, "so it has the feeling of the shortness of life, but the light is eternal," Ono said.

Ono, 74, came up with the concept for the light tower in 1965. Lennon was interested, she said. "He was visualizing then that it would probably become a reality one day," she said. When she turned 70, Ono decided she needed a place to keep the thousands of wishes she had collected through the "wish trees" she had set up at gallery shows around the world. "I was collecting the wishes for world peace, of course," she said. "I thought: `I have to put them in a tower or something ... a peace tower.'"

With that, she set out to make her conceptual light sculpture a reality. Engineers from Iceland and Japan worked from her design to build a 55-foot platform beneath a 6 1/2-foot-tall wishing well that houses nine spotlights. The tower sits on the coast of the Island of Vioey. Ono said she chose Iceland "because it is a very eco-friendly country" that relies on geothermal energy. "It's so beautiful," she said. "There's a certain strangeness to it. I would like to say it's magical."

The wishes Ono has collected -- about 495,000 so far -- will be buried in "capsules" around the tower, each topped with a tree. "Eventually it will be like a forest," she said. Wishes can be submitted by mail or through the Imagine Peace Web site.

"This is the biggest birthday present I gave to John," Ono said. "He's very, very happy about it, I know."

Lest one think Dar Williams' song is disrespectful to Yoko, the opposite is actually true - the following is from an interview when Dar appeared on Vin Scelsa's Idiot's Delight on August 20, 2000 to discuss her recently released The Green World:

Vin: That's Dar Williams live on Idiot's Delight, "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono", one of the songs on the album called The Green World.

Dar: I was asked to write a song for... Sherman Alexie's upcoming film based on Reservation Blues, and which is a sequel to Smoke Signals so I was so thrilled, and... they sent me the script, they gave me the parameters for the song that they wanted. But then I read the scene preceding the song I was supposed to write, and there was this thing about Yoko Ono breaking up the Beatles, y'know, the reference to "Yoko Ono is the person who broke up the Beatles"... and I went to Wesleyan in Connecticut, where there was lots of performance art and experimental music, and Yoko Ono was a very different figure at Wesleyan than just the person who broke up the Beatles, she was kind of a celebrated person, and people knew her works, and (laughs)

Vin: That's not where she went to school, though.

Dar: ...No, she went to Sarah Lawrence... but she did sort of a groundbreaking art piece at Wesleyan, apparently, so she was sort of a hero in that...

Vin: She was accepted as the artist that she is---

Dar: Exactly.

Vin: ---and not as this pop figure who, quote, "broke up the Beatles".

Dar: Right, exactly... not someone who came into the pop world... she sort of came from a marginalized art form, but, you know, people like me find that to be an incredibly valid marginalized art form. So that's why I wrote "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono".

SONG: I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono by Dar Williams

BOOK: All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono by David Sheff

POEM: Wage Peace by Judyth Hill

Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,

breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists

and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,

imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.

Celebrate today.

QUOTE: "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~ Jimi Hendrix

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